Phobia against Christianity

Fr Pawel Rozpiatkowski

Christians are pushed to the social margin. This does not happen in the countries where they are the minority but in the ‘Christian’ countries of the West. Laymen and clergy raise such voices more and more frequently. There are also people who think that the situation is getting worse and we actually deal with Christianophobia.

This word became a dictionary entry in 2004 because of the case of Prof. Rocco Buttiglioni. Let me remind you that his candidature for an EU commissioner was lost because of his religious convictions. The process of marginalisation of Christians developed during the next years. The problem was urgent to such an extent that the Vatican diplomacy, which is rather hesitant, undertook activities so that Christianophobia should be treated as evil, just like anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. These activities were successful and the term began appearing in official documents of organisations defending human rights. However, it has little application because anti-Semitism has been almost everywhere and very decisively condemned and so has Islamophobia, although to a smaller extent, but in case of Christianophobia not only its range but also its very essence is questioned. ‘This is paranoia and loss of precious time of the MPs’, the fighters of atheism commented on the debate on Christianophobia initiated by a British MP. The world responded with certain tardiness to the bloody attacks against Christians in India. The difficult fate of Christian minorities in the countries of Islam is not a problem of political and economic discussions. Politicians, intellectuals and leaders of public opinion do not even try to notice the other, less bloody, cases.

Thoughtless criticism

Christianophobia, according to the commonly accepted definition, means irrational fear of Christians and even hatred towards them. The last attack against Benedict XI had all features of Christianophobia. The Pope said that the condoms were not the sole solution to Africa’s AIDS epidemic and they only made the problem worse. The first reactions were of completely irrational character. Then the medical periodical ‘Lancet’ published an article but it contained no polemics with the Pope’s thesis but only words of condemnation, which in no way suited the scientific character of this renown periodical. But the opinion of the head of the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research was almost completely unnoticed, also in the Polish media. He had to admit, although unwillingly but in the name of scientific honesty, that the Holy Father was right.

Attack of aggressive secularism

Probably, people talk most loudly about marginalisation of Christianity and Christians in Great Britain. The fact that at least fear, if not open hostility towards the followers of Christ, is a problem in the British islands is testified by the notorious removal of any religious references from Christmas and the troubles of Christian charities to gain public grants. ‘Remove all references to Christianity from your web sites and then you will have a chance to get money’, one of the spokesmen of Christian charities was to hear, which was quoted by the BBC. In the British islands one should not talk aloud about one’s faith if you want to occupy a public position, which the former Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted. He was supported by his wife Cherie and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Conor. Ordinary people have similar impressions. Last survey showed that every third Christian admitted that the way the media presented faith led to discrimination and every fourth Christian confessed that they were discriminated at work because of their religious convictions. ‘Christians are treated as second category citizens’, were the increasingly frequent commentaries, which had concerned only the countries with Muslim majorities so far. And not only there. The head of the Vatican diplomacy has focused on this increasing phenomenon recently. ‘You should fight against Christianophobia as equally firmly as against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia’ said Archbishop Dominique Mamberti. Speaking at the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples Foundation in Rimini the head of the Vatican diplomacy stressed that Christians deserved protection just as Jews and Muslims.

Black list

On 30 April 2008, 15,000 young Christians gathered at the Christian festival in Brema. They were confronted by 450 atheist activists. The activists threw calumnies and threats of violence. ‘No more Jesus!’, they shouted. ‘Masturbation instead of evangelisation! Nazis!’, the speaker heated up the atmosphere. And that continued for five days until 4 May. They also attacked the web site of the festival. Those that visited the web site saw ‘Faith in God is curable.’ How can this be called? Is it a permissible dialogue of representatives of two opposite views in free society or is it something else? ‘This is a case of Christianophobia’, Gundrun Kugler, who created the web site, had no doubts. She enumerates cases of increasing prejudice towards Christians in the countries of the rich North. For instance, according to the research conducted in France as many as 67% of believers and practising parents think that schools do not respect their children’s freedom of conscience. Every fifth respondent confirmed that their children experienced troubles because of their faith. In Devon, the USA, a five year old girl broke into tears when the teacher reprimanded her that she should not speak about Jesus to other children. In Great Britain a nurse was suspended for offering her patient to pray for her. The Dutch government refused to give a grant to a Christian foundation. This was some punishment for the conviction that homosexualism could be treated. In San Francisco some vandals, supporters of homosexual relationships, attacked a Catholic church. This aggression was evoked when the government of California rejected the project of the bill legalising such relationships. They drew swastikas on the walls of the church. A German governmental agency accused evangelical Christians of hostility towards the German constitution. These are not the worst cases, only the latest ones from the list of cases of Christianophobia, which is becoming increasingly long.

"Niedziela" 29/2009

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: